NRAC and Access Fund Secure Access to the Bubba City in the New River Gorge

Date: 4/27/2012

The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) and the Access Fund are pleased to announce an access easement has secured the public parking area and approach trails to the extensive cliff line of Bubba City in the New River Gorge. In partnership with the Wild Rock West Virginia community, NRAC and the Access Fund co-hold the easement to protect climbing access for the next five years, with the option to later renew or make it permanent.

Located off Chestnutburg Road, the 15-car parking lot serves as the trailhead for access to more than 340 sport and traditional climbing routes of high quality Nuttall Sandstone. Bubba City is one of the most popular crags in the expansive New River Gorge region, and the trail network sees high and growing use.

The easement agreement provides legitimate access for the climbing community across Wild Rock—a growing 150-homesite community perched atop the New River Gorge. The existing parking area and trailhead will be maintained by NRAC and its committed group of local volunteers. "Climbers here are psyched,” says NRAC President Gene Kistler. “Wild Rock has delivered on a promise to help preserve public, recreational access through their land and into the gorge. This is a big first step toward securing long-term access to the climbing at Bubba City and sets a great example for park-adjacent development. Thanks to everyone that helped bring this together."

For Carl Frischkorn, founder of Wild Rock West Virginia, the easement represents an important aspect of the mountaintop community’s sustainability outlook. “We view sustainability not only in terms of light touch building and living practices, but also in how we are partnering with our neighbors to promote access to the outdoors,” Frischkorn said. “We are proud to partner with NRAC and Access Fund to help ensure that visiting and local climbers have unfettered paths to Bubba City.”

Access Fund offered its transactional expertise, provides an additional layer of risk management, and strengthens the commitment of all partners involved. “As the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign’s ninth project since its 2009 inception, the Bubba City Access Easement serves as a great template for how climbers and private landowners can partner to protect public access,” says Access Fund Access Director Joe Sambataro.

The National Park Service is committed to providing legitimate public access points to the New River Gorge National River. "In a park like New River Gorge, having partners willing to collaborate on access is a critical piece of the puzzle. We're delighted to work with NRAC, the Access Fund, and Wildrock on this important public access,” says Superintendent Don Striker. In addition, all the parties would like to thank Nathan Fetty, managing attorney at the West Virginia University College of Law’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, for donating his time and legal expertise to facilitate the project.

NRAC and the Access Fund ask the climbing community to follow the simple set of rules and requirements, which are outlined at the trailhead, and include limiting use to daytime hours and keeping your canine friends leashed on the trail. Compliance and education of others will help make this five-year agreement extend into a long-term partnership that provides climber access for generations to come.